Sat-rangi Sat-tal




“One reason that birds matter – ought to matter – is that they are our last, best connection to a natural world that is otherwise receding. They’re the most vivid and widespread representatives of the Earth as it was before people arrived on it.”

Jonathan Earl Franzen


Don’t forget to watch the cheerful video of the birds shared at the end of the post.

Birding in Sattal by Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe
The effervescent Red-billed Leiothrix

Come April we like to spend some time in the hills, avoiding the calendar holidays and weekends. Earlier we used to do that in peak summer but with drastic climate shift the month of visit changed. With the sun being really strong and temperature hovering close to thirty one could feel the heat. Thankfully, the breeze was cool. Fans are now a necessity in many hill stations giving a feeling of being in the plains. It is very unfortunate that greed is the prevalent vice. Now I feel February – early March will be a better bet.

Birding in Sattal by Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe
The striking blue-violet color of the Blue-whistling Thrush

After much speculation we decided on Sattal where we had been exactly a decade ago. I remember it being secluded, surrounded by forests and tals (lakes). We had done boating under the full moon which was quite an experience.

On our walk to the famous Studio, I remember clicking pics of birds. That time I had no inclination towards birding so never looked up their names. The lens too was not ones used for such photography. So, if I look back now I saw the following; Verditer Flycatcher, Crested-Serpent Eagle, Oriental Turtle Dove, Blue Whistling Thrush, Indian Blackbird, White-Capped Water-Redstart, Common or Scarlet Rosefinch, Grey & White-browed Wagtails, Orange-headed Thrush, Bar-winged flycatcher-shrike, Kalij Pheasant pair & domestic geese. The list is based on ‘captured’ memories.

Now, with an interest in birds and thankfully being able to recognize some, I thought of going back to the Sattal woods. I know the list is incomplete as I cannot recognize calls (barring a few common ones) so their presence does not get recorded by me. I am still figuring out an easy way to learn it.

I also got to know about the paid Bird Hide concept prevalent in Sattal. Many go there but don’t really want to say so. Hide is a patch where props are put using natural materials like branches & tree trunk for birds to perch, water and food is made available to attract birds. Nearby a green net cover is put with peep holes for photographers to station their camera and see from. There are two shifts available for booking, one early in the morning and another early in the evening. I debated quite a bit if I should go to the hides or not. I finally decided not to.

Another very famous birding hotspot is the Studio Sattal. This is the woods I remember where we had gone for a walk in our earlier trip. A stream flows down to meet a tal, probably Hanuman tal. This stream has a couple of sections where birds keep popping in to drink and bathe in the cool water. The spot has been so named, as, one by one the birds come, pose and get clicked, just like in a studio.

Thankfully, Sattal has not given into commercialization so there are very few hotels and the crowd is only at the Ram & Sita tals, which form one huge lake. Few tourists come there for water sports and boating. The closest places to stay to the Studio are KMVN TRH & YMCA. We had opted for a cottage at KMVN. They had given us their Log Hut which I did not like so finally moved to their duplex cottage which had high ceiling making it much cooler during the day. A few under-construction cottages are near completion. The room/facilities are basic which is fine when the whole day you are out. The freshly prepared food is homely & tasty.

We generally avoid weekends and calendar holidays to travel. So, we had the place to ourselves with hardly any tourists around. The day we reached, we went for boating in the evening. We saw some birds in the trees and ground that surrounded the lake. The quietude of the lake & forest around had a calming effect.

The next morning we went to the Studio. We reached around 8.30 am. A couple of birders had left and a couple of them were about to leave. You can imagine the delight as the first bird I saw was the Orange-bellied Leafbird. Thank God I clicked it from where I was; as it flew away by the time we reached the stream. Thereafter, it was me, my hubs, the chirps and the woods. I was enchanted by the colorful fauna of Sattal and I had to be dragged back as the day progressed and sun got hotter. We walked along the big lake in the evening and were back again at the studio.

The next day we went to Neem Karoli Baba Ashram in Kainchi Dham, visited a sweet elderly couple at their hill abode and of course the studio yet again. We had met them on one of our birding walks in Sultanpur. Such are the other joys of birding. You meet people and bond with them; maybe for a while, maybe for a lifetime. They had been to the studio many times, especially in pursuit of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher but had been unlucky. Another couple had driven all the way to Sattal in hope of sighting it. We came to know that they had been all over D/NCR wherever it was sighted, but in vain. We informed them that we had been seeing the beauties everyday in the Studio woods.

The next day both the birders were at the studio in the morning and since we were returning we decided not go. We should have, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher pair finally came to the stream. The moment I had been waiting for the past couple of days. Well, there is always another time and not forget I got the handsome male in flight against the lovely blue sky. You gain some, you lose some. That’s life!

We made a brief stop at Garud tal on our way back and have ear marked it along with Chaffi for birding next time when we are in Sattal. We enjoyed our slow travel, which is the kind I like. Now back to the concrete jungle and grind after the rejuvenating nature therapy.

While returning through Corbett road I saw many vendors selling bel sherbet (Stone or Wood apple squash) and I wanted to have one. It is a wonderful summer drink loaded with goodness and fiber. We decided to stop at the cart of a young lad standing alone. What we saw was the most beautiful sight! He was surrounded by butterflies flitting around him and mud puddling under his cart. It was like angels flying around him like confetti. I am saying this as it was not so around any other cart before or after his. I also realized I should have made a video of him & his stall. There was something magical about him or the spot. The sherbet was delicious and we were overjoyed to be surrounded by butterflies for the time we were there. I don’t think I will ever forget the sight. Watch the puddling fun below!

The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.

You may like to know about my journey into the world of birds. It’s all in here

Birding in Sattal by Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe
The radiant Verditer Flycatcher

We saw 60+ species at Studio Sattal. Since I am not good at recognizing the warblers and birds through their call, the actual bird list is incomplete.

Here’s a visual treat (made on hand held camera & mobile) of the birds from the stream and woods around. Do subscribe to my YouTube channel, if you have not.

Birdwatching in Studio Sattal and woods around it.

6 Life Lessons From Birds

1. Be confidentBirds learn to trust themselves before they take off in the sky. So have faith in your abilities and know that you will find a warm current to soar in.

 2. Let your colors shineDifferent birds have hundreds of different hues. Be bright and make sure you aren’t hiding what makes you one-of-a-kind.  

 3. Show up early and oftenThe legendary early bird gets the worm for a reason. So find something worth showing up for, and then show up every day.

 4. Go with the seasonsBirds thrive despite changes in their environment. Be fluid and go with the flow, trusting your ability to always find a branch to land on.

 5. Flock togetherBirds seek strength and sustenance from one another. Keep friends and family close by as you navigate the days.

 6. Spread your wingsEventually, all birds must leave the safety of the nest and become what they are meant to be. Have no fear of falling, and start flapping.

Source: Mind Fuel Daily



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The Soul Is Here For It’s Own Joy!
Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe

24 responses »

  1. Book marking this fabulous post and coming back to re-read. It was such a joy getting a wonderful glimpse of most of the species you have shared here. Aarshia is super excited to read this post too.

    The life lessons are super fundu I say. 🙂

    Love the passion with which you curate these beautiful posts dear Monika. I wish you twilight in your heart and a twinkle of stars in your soul.

    Biggest hugs my dearest. xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gratitude Natasha 💜💙

      I am so happy that Aarshia, you & I share a common love 🌿🐦🌸📸

      Everyone teaches someone something. We just need to be aware of it and ready to accept it. Nature is the gentlest and the best teacher.

      Much love & magical vibes being sent your way ♥️🧚🏻‍♂️💫🪄✨

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the beautiful vibes dear Monika.

        Sending you a double dose of those.
        And yes, celebrating our gentlest and most precious teacher- nature. 💚💚


  2. Hi monica very well written .. Being a bird guide, I am well versed in every detail of Sattal & gone many times but still enjoyed reading about every single things 😍 My personal suggestion should have been the experience of Hide once but still you found a lot of birds & you also made good video clip with melodious music. Well done 👏 Next time you come to North in future, definitely tell me I will be happy to meet or help you thanks …
    Singh Karan @rickztoor

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot Karan. I am glad you enjoyed it even though you have been there numerous times. I guess that’s the hold nature has on us ….. we can never get enough of it!

      I had heard about hides but personally wanted to stay away from it. I enjoy exploring on my own and in the wild at my own pace 😊

      Would be great to meet someday on a wonderful bird watching trip.


  3. Monika ji, it’s such a beautifully written piece, that I was completely floored. The pics are to die for.
    And am totally surprised at the number of birds you could see and click in this short period.
    Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful narrative. And not forgetting the lovely video towards the end.The musical track that you have added is so soothing with a pleasant cadence, without overwhelming the sounds and chirps of the birds. Please share the source thru DM if you can.
    Twitter @atulMbhatnagar

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for the appreciation Atul 🙏🏼 I am delighted to know you enjoyed the post and our feathered friends. The Studio is magical. I remember you had once inquired about it in one of your tweets. Will definitely share the track link.


  4. A very inspirational trip. I’m glad you shared these beauties. The birds are beautiful but that video with butterflies is beyond imagination. Never saw so many in a small area.
    Lovely lessons from the birds. And there are many others related to the nature. Thank you for writing them in your post.
    I’m glad I read you again, Monika!
    Be well and full of joy! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot Suzana 💗

      The trip was wonderful in many ways. Just being amidst nature and its beauties is so enlivening.

      That gathering is known as puddling in butterflies. In a nutshell “…Butterflies get most of their nutrition from flower nectar. Though rich in sugar, nectar lacks some important nutrients the butterflies need for reproduction. For those, butterflies visit puddles….”

      Here’s another one of Pea Blue butterflies I saw around the stream:

      Have a magical weekend, Suzana 🧚🏻‍♀️✨💛

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great trip.
    Some lucky sightings are that orange leaf bird and green-winged pigeon. They are not that common.

    What is that structure at the entry point (the greyish blue-colored cabin)? It was not there earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot Bhrigu. We enjoyed it a lot. The journey after a decade did throw up plenty of memories and I still have those unclear pics of birds 😂

      The Orange-bellied leafbird was indeed a lucky sighting … The first bird I saw at the stream. What a start, na 🤩 The Emerald Dove was first spotted & clicked by hubs …. It was scurrying away fast so got only this click. Didn’t see it after that.

      I don’t know what it is ….. Could be a futuristic entry ticket booth for the lake. There were these guys who were stopping vehicles going towards the lake, asking them to pay parking fees etc.


  6. Wonderful write up indeed. Loved the way you describe the things.
    What I have seen last few years Sattal has turned more of a photographers paradise with hides and lot of guides coming.
    People want to photograph birds rather observe them in the field. My believe is to observe their behaviour to connect more with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mohit 🤩

      Yes, I heard about this hide concept recently. I am not inclined towards it …. Each to their own.

      I love to see the birds in their natural habitat. My hubs & I are a team 😀 We really enjoyed sitting at that small stream; waiting for and watching them. Walking around the woods ….Sheer bliss.


  7. What a birding spree it would have been, Monika. See all the sightings you had in just two days, enviable! Sattal is definitely one of my favourite places for birding. Went through all the pictures and account, and still in hangover! Loved them!

    Liked by 1 person

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